This was my fifth cruise to Alaska ( previous Alaska cruise were on Princess and Norwegian) Celebrity is my favorite cruise line and decided to sail with them this time (this was my 8th Celebrity cruise)/
First of all- Alaska is such a fantastic destination that I don't think you can go wrong- whatever line you choose. The only disappointing thing for me on this itinerary was Tracy Arm Fjord. There was a glacier at the end but I found Glacier Bay and College Fjords to be far superior. So if seeing the Glaciers is the reason for your cruise- I would pick a different itinerary.
Also- as far as whale watching goes... we only saw two whales. In late May and early June you will see hundreds of whales spouting and sea otters. There was really none of this one this passage (July 6-July 13th). So I highly recommend going in late May or early June as opposed to later in the summer.
That aside.. My son (age 11) and I loved this cruise and the improvements made to the ship.
Cabin... we had a guaranteed outside midship on deck 2 and it was fine. We slept comfortably and it was clean. I don't like the closet area and wished we had more shelves than hanging space but this is a minor complaint. Our steward was unobtrusive and did a great job.
Food- we liked both the buffet and pool grill. We also tried Bistro on Five and loved it there! Great crepes and panini sandwiches. We dined at Qsine twice and it really is a great concept. Tip- only try three dishes each- it's way too much food. The Disco Shrimp was a nice small size- so get that for a starter. All the dishes we tried were good though.
Pools and hot tubs= The swimming possibilities on this ship are very limited for kids. The outside pools are not heated and it's too cold to use them. The indoor adult only pool- allows kids from 4-5 each day only. So the hot tubs were always full of kids- an unfortunately one pooped in a hot tub- gross! Parents please don't allow unpotty- trained kids in hot tubs- it isn't good for them or the other passengers.
Shows: We didn't do any of the Broadway style shows so can't comment. The comedian Rick and illusionist Jason Bishop were great. We did attend the crew talent show and the final Voyage shows and both were enjoyable.
Public areas: All public areas looked great. The furnishings were modern, stylish and comfortable.
Activities: I love trivia and they offered at least 4 trivia games a day so I was pleased. While in port some activities were poorly attended but that's natural. The entertainment staff was really good.
Children: My son loved the Fun Factory and they weren't just playing video games. They were doing scavenger hunts and playing games. The kids were active. He said this was the best cruise ever and he begged me to book another (we are doing Summit to Bermuda on 8/12/12).
Excursions: We did the "Big Nugget" excursion in Skagway and it was good. My son loved playing with the Iditarod dogs and puppies. You get to sample micro beers for free, lunch is included. We panned for gold, experience a 40 below walk-in freezer and got educated on the dredging for gold.
Naturalist Brent Nixon: He was fabulous and my son LOVED him. We bought his DVD series.
Spa: I had a good massage and facial in the spa. They are over-priced of course and they always try to sell you products- just say no. I used the Persian Gardens (I am "Elite" so I got some free coupons). I didn't like the Persian gardens and don't recommend them.
Negatives: I have cruised frequently (28+, I've lost count) and alway with my son. As a parent, I was really not impressed with some of the parents on this cruise. While most of the kids were really good- parents brought kids to the show and to trivia and allowed them to misbehave. All kids- from age 3 and up certainly need to learn to sit quietly and respect the performers. There were kids picking their noses and kicking the backs of my chair in the show lounge and there were no apparent parents to correct them. Parents should be on top of their kids. I don't know why parents aren't doing their jobs and I get the impression that parents are becoming selfish. They want to enjoy THEIR cruise and don't care about the other passengers. This isn't a slam at all parents- most are good but the bad ones spoil it for others.
We disembarked on day 6 in Victoria because I had visited there on a past cruise and fell in love with it. We got approval to disembark prior embarking (one week prior) and there was no problem disembarking- we just walked off with our luggage at 8:30PM and went to our hotel, Parkside. We stayed in Victoria for three nights and it was heaven!!! I wished we had longer to stay there. Butchart Gardens is fantastic- go. We did whale watching with "Prince of Whales" and saw lots of whales.